Rural Livelihoods, Vulnerability and Adaptation

Course content

The aim of the course is to provide an in-depth theoretical and empirical understanding of rural livelihoods in developing countries and how they have evolved. The vulnerability and resilience of households and communities will be analysed through linking global, national and local drivers of change – such as economic globalisation, global environmental change, biodiversity conservation, and current food, fuel, and financial crises – with livelihood responses. The theoretical literature underpinning rural livelihood frameworks will inform the comparison of case studies from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The course introduces students to how rural livelihoods can be conceptualised, assessed and supported in light of trends, shocks and stresses at a number of scales.


MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics
MSc Programme in Geography and Geoinformatics with a Minor Subject
MSc Programme in Agricultural Development

Learning outcome


 • Influence of global, national and local factors on rural livelihoods in developing countries;

•  Theoretical underpinnings of livelihood frameworks and how these relate to debates within human geography and the broader social sciences;

•  Empirical aspects of rural livelihoods in developing countries, including the relative importance of agricultural and diversified livelihood portfolios;

•  Vulnerability and resilience in rural communities;

•  Policy processes through which rural livelihoods can be supported in a sustainable and equitable manner.



 •  Conceptualise and apply a rural livelihoods framework to assess and measure vulnerability and resilience;

•  Assess a variety of research methods for the assessment of livelihoods, including both quantitative and qualitative tools;

•  Apply appropriate techniques to measure asset holdings and diversified livelihoods;

•  Structure, write and defend an essay which is a suitable basis for a funding proposal.



 •  Analyse socio-economic and environmental changes that rural households respond to;

•  Compare and evaluate theories of vulnerability, resilience and adaptation, recognising the mutual linkages between these bodies of literature;

•  Discuss and reflect upon the theoretical basis of case studies, the research methods employed and how both could be improved;


The form of teaching is theory exercises combined with ad hoc lectures. For the teaching plan, please see Absalon.

Please see Absalon course page.

BSc in Geography and Geoinformatics or equivalent.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
The written assignment is prepared during the course and must be handed in prior to the exam week. The oral exam uses the written assignment as its point of departure. It includes the titles listed in the officially approved reading list. A combined grade is given after the oral exam.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners.
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see learning outcomes.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Exercises
  • 35
  • Project work
  • 35
  • Preparation
  • 136
  • English
  • 206